December should be renamed as 'Hang-ber', thanks to the sheer number of people who wake up with a hangover.
Evenings are great this month, – there’s lots of revelry and food and yes, drinks too but the mornings are often terrible. Like one is caught in a loop – party-headache-party-dehydration-party-no energy.
Is there a way out?
What Causes Hangovers?
How does that snug, fuzzy buzz transform overnight into a scorching, blistering bother? Symptoms of hangover stem from our body's attempts to process alcohol and get rid of it from the system.
It is thus a combination of: dehydration (the alcohol forces depletion of water reserves), nervous shock (which is the after-effect of a mild overdose of the depressant drug that alcohol is) and (pumping all that alcohol and liquid through your body flushes away a significant supply of your essential vitamin and mineral stores, as well as other micronutrients).
Meanwhile, as the liver’s sugar stores get broken down as it concentrates on processing booze, one is left low on brain and body fuel, leading to low blood sugar (resulting in shakes).
Is Throwing up a Good Idea?
A lot of people feel better after induced throwing up.
That’s because too much alcohol leads to acid secretion in the body and after vomiting, one throws these secretions out which helps him feel little better temporarily. But throwing out is not a cure for hangover as by the time hangover occurs, all the alcohol consumed is already being absorbed in the stomach.
It is better to relieve the nausea associated with hangover by taking an antacid rather than by inducing vomiting.
The body craves fried, oily, spicy food during a hangover. Is it a good idea to give in to the craving?
Craving is very individual.
Fatty oily foods may help neutralize high concentration of acid and alcohol in the stomach for some people. But ideally, it is better to opt for light foods that the body can digest easily.
To Be Hangover Proof!
Simple - follow these five strategies –
Eat some solid carbs (pasta, potatoes) before you go to the party. A lined stomach hold better for the alcohol avalanche.
Another hot trick is to drink a glass (or two) of milk before drinking.
Eat while you drink – keep having some snacks.
Have alcohol and non alcoholic drinks alternately and sip them (not gulp).
Absolutely stop at the limit that you had decided (3-4) when you were still coherent.
Never try new drinks at parties. These should be tried in private (otherwise it’s a big risk).
Replenish some of the B vitamins you’ve lost away – drinking – take a multivitamin, and drink as much water as possible before going to bed - will be unpleasant but has to be done.
What Does Hangover Look Like?
A lingering exhaustion, intense instability, compelling nausea, battering headache, granulated eyelids, twitchy nerves, mental anguish (why did I dance so comically last night?), incoherent thoughts, a guilty conscience… so buddy, you couldn’t escape it!
Hangovers hit you hard!
So, How to Manage the Terrible Hangover?
Take one step at a time... start drinking loads of water the moment you are up.
Drink lukewarm water with a spoonful of honey and a little bit of salt.
If you feel sick, take an anti-vomiting pill, an antacid too. Antacid prepared in liquid form also help in reducing stomach irritations and vomiting.
Peppermint is a good aid too to sort out an upset stomach.
A cold pack at the back of neck and forehead also works.
Next take a shower if you are able to. It will increase circulation, which will push the alcohol out of the bloodstream quicker.
Do some form of exercise to get rid of lethargy and get your mind busy.
And as soon as you can face food- eat some!
A nice cucumber and tomato sandwich works well. You can blend some apples with ice and turn it into a smoothie to reduce nausea.
Food helps absorb all the acid in your stomach.
An egg breakfast works great too - eggs also contain large amounts of cysteine, a chemical that breaks down the hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde), have a oral rehydration salt (the electrolytes in it will help replace sodium, glycogen, potassium, and other minerals lost to alcohol’s diuretic effect).
And be careful if you are trying to treat your hangover headache with aspirin or other painkillers, beware- the combination can cause severe acidity and peptic ulcers too.
If you must have one, then always have something to eat before you take them.
And, well if nothing works then just have one litre of water and go off to sleep.
(Kavita Devgan is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico), Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Tradition)